August 3, 2021

Will the next eruption of Teide be like the previous ones? | Science

Will the next eruption of Teide be like the previous ones? | Science

What happens with the eruptions of Teide, or rather of the island of Tenerife, is that there is a great diversity of eruptive mechanisms, from explosive to just effusive. The last one, which took place in the Chinyero volcano in 1909, was effusive, that is, it consisted only in the emission of lava without a very explosive character. This eruption took place in the lateral dorsal calls of the island of Tenerife. But there are also, in Tenerife, examples of explosiveness within the Caldera de Las Cañadas. The most important one is Montaña Blanca, which is so called because it contains white eruptive materials (pumice) due to an explosive eruption. So the answer to your question is that we can not know what the next eruption will be like if effusive or explosive as we can not know where it will be, if in the ridges, on the flanks of the island or in Las Cañadas … But there will undoubtedly be new eruptions and they will resemble the previous ones.

If the eruption occurs within Las Cañadas, an area where there is no population, then the risk of losing lives or infrastructure will be less. However, if it occurs where the last flank eruptions have occurred, in what are called the ridges, the risks increase because they are highly populated areas with a large amount of infrastructure.

The island of Tenerife is formed by hundreds of volcanic emission centers. Although right now it is considered as "asleep", sometimes there is some sign of reactivation as it happened in 2004 when there were a number of earthquakes that far exceeded those that are normally detected. Some models then predicted that it was the signal of the next Teide eruption. The earthquakes were interpreted as the rise of magma to the surface, but there was no eruption.

Last year also recorded a number of earthquakes higher than usual but the activity has returned to normal levels. It may be that within a year, a month or a week there will be a reactivation or change of activity that ceases later, but it may also happen that this reactivation continues and an eruption occurs. It is very difficult to make a long-term prediction, but surveillance allows you to be alert.

Volcano of the Black Sands.
Volcano of the Black Sands. Getty

Tenerife is a volcanic island that has gone through several eruptions since it was formed. In fact, it was formed and grew as a result of precisely volcanic eruptions. We know much more the Teide than the rest of volcanoes on the island because it is the highest peak and the greatest. It is a polygenic volcano, which means that it has had several eruptions and with each of them has been growing. It is inside the Caldera de Las Cañadas which is in turn a set of different processes of construction and destruction of volcanic buildings. Outside of Las Cañadas there are different examples of eruptive processes, some historical like Garachico or the most recent one from El Chinyero. In their majority these volcanoes of the island are of monogenetic type because they were created in a single eruption. Of the previous historical eruptions of Tenerife, the most spectacular and that also produced fatalities, was that of 1705-1706 known as the eruption of Fasnia, Arafo and Siete Fuentes.

What must also be clear is that if the Teide or one of the other volcanoes of Tenerife erupted, it would cause a very complicated situation. First because the island is much more populated than it was in 1909 and, second, because our technological and infrastructure vulnerability is much higher, as we discovered in April 2010 with the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull. That eruption, considered small by its size, severely affected air traffic for days and had to close airspace in most of northern Europe. If a volcano in Iceland paralyzed European and global traffic, a volcano in the Canary Islands could also affect local or regional air routes.

Janire Prudencio She is a doctor in Earth Sciences, expert in volcanic seismology and researcher Juan de la Cierva from the Department of Theoretical Physics and the Cosmos of the University of Granada.

Question done via email by Hector SPA

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